clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Orioles-Blue Jays series preview: Looking to make space in the AL East

It’s a big four-game road series against a formidable opponent.

MLB: Game One-Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles
Hey Kev
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles and Blue Jays have played half of their season series against each other and so far the Orioles have come out looking pretty good. They swept the Jays on the road in May and took two out of three from them at home in June. Tonight they start a four-game series in Toronto.

Overall, the Blue Jays are 5.5 games behind the Orioles in the standings, however, if you look at their overall team many would say they are more talented than the Orioles. I don’t know about that, but I do know that the Blue Jays are a team that always feels like they can beat you.

Since June 15th, when these teams last met, the Blue Jays have played .600 ball, which is quite good! Thankfully, the Orioles have also been playing very well which makes them hard to catch. The Jays have gained just a half-game on the O’s in that stretch.

With a sweep in this four-game series, the Blue Jays could find themselves 1.5 behind the Orioles in the standings. If it’s the Orioles that do the sweeping, an AL East title would become nearly impossible for them to attain. This series isn’t as important as when the Orioles played the Rays ten days ago, but it’s still big.

The Blue Jays pitching staff, going by ERA, has been the best team in the American League this year. There’s more to pitching than ERA, of course, but their team 3.78 mark is pretty impressive.

Their rotation has four pitchers who are having successful seasons, led by former Oriole Kevin Gausman and his 134 ERA+. Their weak link has been Alek Manoah, who has been back with the team in July after spending a month in the minors trying to get straight. It hasn’t really worked as he gave up eight runs and walked 12 batters in his last three starts, which lasted a combined total of 12.2 innings. Hyun Jin Ryu is making his return in this series but he won’t be taking Manoah’s spot; the team will go with a six-man rotation.

Closer Jordan Romano is currently on the IL with back inflammation, which weakens their bullpen for now. Possibly in response to Romano’s injury, on Sunday afternoon the Jays traded for Jordan Hicks. I don’t care for that.

The Jays’ offense is led by Bo Bichette and Matt Chapman, but up and down the lineup they have batters who can get the big hit any time. Their team OBP of .332 is third in the AL, compared to .317 for the Orioles who are just about league average. They are collectively slugging .422, which is much closer to the Orioles’ .418.

Game 1: Monday, July 31st, 7:07 PM

Kyle Gibson (4.68 ERA/103 K) vs Chris Bassitt (3.91 ERA, 118 K)

Chris Bassitt signed a three-year contract with the Blue Jays that many thought the Orioles could have matched back in the offseason when we thought the Orioles might actually sign a starting pitcher. He’s been pretty good this year for the Blue Jays although he does have a rather ominous 4.60 FIP. He’s had a solid July with a 3.33 ERA over five starts.

Bassitt has faced the Orioles once this year and they thoroughly destroyed him. On June 13th he was knocked out after just three innings pitched with eight runs allowed. Ryan O’Hearn, Gunnar Henderson, and Adam Frazier all homered.

Kyle Gibson has been Kyle Gibson of late, alternating between bad and kinda good but never getting knocked out of the game too early. In July he pitched 30.2 innings in five starts with a 4.75 ERA. He’ll have one last start in the month to try and bring that number down.

Game 2: Tuesday, August 1st, 7:07 PM

Kyle Bradish (3.29 ERA, 95 K) vs Hyun Jin Ryun (season debut)

Veteran Hyun Jin Ryu made six starts for the Blue Jays in 2022 before missing the rest of the season with Tommy John surgery. This is the final year of his four-year contract with the Blue Jays. He had very good COVID-abbreviated 2020 season with the Blue Jays but struggled in 2022 with a 4.37 ERA and 4.02 FIP.

Ryu turned 36 years old in March and it’s hard to know what to expect from him. If he looks like the Ryu who played for the Dodgers and the first year of his contract with the Blue Jays, it will be a major boost to their team.

Kyle Bradish is coming off of a rare poor start in which he gave up five runs to the Phillies in 6.2 innings. Even with that clunker, he had a successful July in which he held opposing batters to a .219/.268/.336 line with a 3.50 ERA.

Game 3: Wednesday, August 2nd, 7:07 PM

Grayson Rodriguez (6.21 ERA, 70 K) vs Yusei Kikuchi (3.79 ERA, 116 K)

After a disappointing 2022, Yusei Kikuchi has righted the ship somewhat this year. His 3.79 ERA comes with an ugly 4.79 FIP, however. He’s coming off of a very nice game against the Dodgers in which he gave up one run in six innings against the Dodgers.

The Orioles have faced Kikuchi twice this year and while they did not light him up, he didn’t pitch too well. In both games he failed to get out of the fifth inning. In 9.1 total innings, he walked six and gave up five runs. Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle took him deep.

After watching Grayson Rodriguez duel with Gerrit Cole last Friday, this is the game I’m most excited to see in the series. His overall numbers are still a mess, but since his recall from the minors he has pitched well and has been progressively better each start. If you missed his game last Friday, shame on you. He pitched 6.1 shutout innings against the Yankees and in three starts since his recall has held batters to a .564 OPS.

Game 4: Thursday, August 3rd, 3:07 PM

TBD vs Kevin Gausman (3.10 ERA, 170 K)

I feel torn about Kevin Gausman. On one hand, I like him and am glad he has found success. On the other hand, why couldn’t he find success when he was on the team I root for? And why did he have to sign a big deal with a team I cannot stand? Doesn’t he care what I think at all? (P.S., I am not actually looking for answers to any of these questions)

Anyway, Gausman is having another very good year. He leads the AL in strikeouts (170), FIP (2.83), and starter K/9 (12.1). In four July starts he struck out 32 and walked six in 23 innings, which is pretty darn good. He also gave up five home runs, which is something. He faced the Orioles back on May 23rd and held them to just two runs in eight innings. The Orioles won the game in extra innings.

Tyler Wells was originally slated to start this game but was optioned yesterday after losing his way. No word yet on who will replace him in the rotation; it could be someone who isn’t yet on the team.


How many games will the Orioles win in this series?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    0 (swept for the first time)
    (8 votes)
  • 6%
    (44 votes)
  • 59%
    (394 votes)
  • 27%
    (185 votes)
  • 5%
    4 (sweep!)
    (36 votes)
667 votes total Vote Now